He was really dirty because he had been repairing the car.

Is it possible to say this even if the repairs have been completed, but I don't want to emphasize the completion just the fact that being dirty is a result of the action?

1 Answer 1


The past perfect continuous (also called past perfect progressive) is used to show that an action started in the past and continued up to another point in the past. There is no implication that the action was either completed, or not completed, at the later point. At the time being discussed, he was really dirty because he had been repairing the car. That's all we know. He might have been still working, or have interrupted the work for a break, or have finished the job.

  • so the car could be repaired, meaning running again.
    – anouk
    Jan 13, 2019 at 11:30
  • We do not know if the job of repairing the car was finished or not. Jan 13, 2019 at 11:35
  • does "he was dirty because he had repaired the car" sound natural?
    – anouk
    Jan 13, 2019 at 11:37
  • You could say "he was very dirty because he had just finished repairing the car". Jan 13, 2019 at 12:40
  • 1
    If a repair of something is completed or finished, then that thing is back to how it was before it was broken or stopped working. Jan 13, 2019 at 12:48

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